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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Banana Bread French Toast Sticks - freezer meals

Ever heard the saying, "Necessity is the Mother of invention?"  Well for me, Necessity is the Mother of new recipe!"  I was making our new standard Pumpkin Pie French toast sticks for the freezer last week and I made a planning error:  DO NOT MAKE THEM WITH THE KIDS AROUND!!! Take it from me!  I could hardly keep ahead of them as I pulled them off the griddle.  I finally sent them all away and started on a second batch, but was out of pumpkin puree.  I improvised and think these are just as great, if not better, than the original recipe.  Here it is:

2 bananas
1 can of carrots
12 eggs
1/2 cup milk of your choice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla
2 loaves of bread
powdered sugar (optional)

Mix in a blender the can of carrots (drained), milk, banana and 6 eggs.  Pour into a large bowl.  Blend up the rest of ingredients and add to the first mix.  (The reason I do it separately is because my blender wouldn't hold all of the batter so I divide it into two batches.)

Dip individual slices of bread into the batter and cook them on a griddle or frying pan, turning once for each side. 

***In  my previous post on Pumpkin Pie french toast sticks I was baking them in the oven.  I have found that if just do them normally in slices on a griddle it is faster and easier to clean up saving you more time and effort.  I can fit 6 slices on the griddle and take them off laying them directly to a cutting board where I cut them into sticks with a pizza cutter. 

Place the strips onto a baking rack to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  (This is usually when they start disappearing one by one as the kids 'help' sprinkle powdered sugar on them). 

When my baking rack is full I place it in the freezer to flash freeze them (about 30 minutes).  Then you can store them in gallon freezer bags without them sticking together. 

Take out your desired amount of French Toast sticks and warm in the microwave, toaster or oven.

Friday, May 25, 2012

'Almost' Perfect Chocolate Waffles

We were driving home from a long day at the zoo and my mind started frantically trying to remember all the items in my freezer and pantry as we sat in Memorial Day weekend traffic.  I knew the frozen fruit smoothies and egg burritos we took to the park for lunch would soon wear off and I would have 7 hungry kidlets, probably just about the time we would pull into the driveway.   I was right.  I remembered my ace in my back pocket.......waffle mix.  The kids were starving and the only way I convinced them to put down the box of cereal and wait for me to make waffles was to add cocoa and promise whipped cream and chocolate syrup!  They were a fabulous and spontaneous creation, but were missing one ingredient...bananas on top would have made this recipe perfect!  Oh well, I guess I will just have to make them again!

Chocolate Waffles

4 cups baking mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2-3 cups water
1 cup of milk (your choice, I used Almond)
3 eggs
1tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

Optional toppings: strawberries, chocolate syrup, bananas, nuts, choc chips, whipped cream, caramel, cherries, m & m's, peanut butter.....the list goes on and on!

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, add liquid until batter is the right consistency. 
Pour into your waffle iron (this one is mine:)
Cook until done (about 4 minutes) and then top with toppings. ENJOY!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tuesday is freezer meals day- French Toast sticks, smoothies, pizza pockets and egg sandwich patties!

Mondays are my 'catch up on the house' days, Tuesdays are my 'catch up on the freezer meals' days.  I have found that if I put some time preparing snacks and meals in advance I save time later.  This week I made 120 French toast sticks, 18 pizza pockets, 10 smoothie packs, 20 breakfast egg patties, and 14 carrot juice ice cube packs for smoothies.  Total in time it took 2 hours and has saved me tons of time later on in the week.  The best part is that the  kids (and my husband and I) have really good choices that take little time from freezer to table.

The Pumpkin Pie french toast sticks were yummy. (I made them while I was making dinner Sunday night.) I took 1 can pumpkin, 1 can of sweet potatoes and mashed them thoroughly. I split the mash into two bowls. The first bowl got my waffle mix added to it and as I made the waffles for dinner I worked on the french toast, too. Add 1 dozen eggs, 1/2 cup milk (I used almond), 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 cup brown sugar to the mash. Mix well. Stir in 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg. Take 1.5 loaves of bread (about 42 pieces) and split the slices into thirds. Take each strip and dip it in the batter then place it on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, flip and bake 3 more minutes on the other side. I flash froze the batches in the freezer on a baking rack and then combined them into a gallon size zipper bag. Reheat the sticks in the toaster oven or microwave.

Tuesday I made pizza pockets for the first time, they were fabulous. Here is the link to that recipe:

Then I made smoothie packs from 3 cartons of strawberries, 1 bag frozen blueberries, and 1 bunch bananas.  (I juice 5 lbs. of carrots once a week and freeze them in 1 cup portions.  I also save leftover watermelon juice and freeze it the same way to add in our smoothies instead of ice.)  Here is my favorite Green Monster smoothie recipe:


Next, I decided to use up the rest of the diced veggies by making breakfast sandwich egg patties.  Just take 10 eggs mix well, add 2 cups of spinach (sauteed with chopped turkey bacon and onions, and cooled) and sprinkle the veggies and bacon into eggs.  Bake in a greased rectangular cake pan at 375 for 20 minutes.  Take out of oven and let cool.  Cut into squares and freeze in plastic bags in the freezer.  To eat, reheat the patty in the microwave and serve on a toasted English muffin with a slice of cheese....delicious!

When I was finished with the 'freezer' cooking the kids came in and showed me the toad they found in the sandbox....they were busy too!

Green Monster Smoothies

Okay, so the other day I was reading a blog and found a smoothie recipe for Green Monster smoothies.  I was VERY sceptical, but decided to give it a try.  The blogger promised me that my kids would suck down the mostly spinach and kale smoothies and beg for more.  I tried it and guess what?  She was right!  My kids literally beg me to make them and even our baby twins cry when the blender goes off and I start pouring cups.  I have to make 2 batches at a time so everyone will get their fair share and will even confess that when the kids were out in the sandbox the other day I snuck a whole one for myself!

So here is our version, I promise it just tastes like a banana smoothie!

Green Monster Smoothie~
4-5 cups fresh spinach
2 cups fresh kale leaves ( I pull them off the stem, the stem can be bitter)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup carrot juice
1 banana
ice cubes

Puree the greens in the juice.  (We juice a 5lb. bag of carrots once a week and have them frozen into 1 cup portions in the fridge.  You could leave it out, but I add it for an extra vitamin packed kick).  Be sure to blend the heck out of the greens, no one wants chunky spinach in their smoothie. Add banana and ice and mix until smooth.  Pour into glasses and ENJOY!

pizza pockets-freezer meals

These were crazy good!  Even the baby boy crawled up his high chair, grabbed one off a plate and proceeded to eat the entire thing!   Money Saving is the page where I found the idea. ( I adapted the filling to my family and what was in my freezer.  We used a turkey polish sausage, cheese, spaghetti sauce and veggies to fill them.  I marked the 'no cheese' pockets with an X for my dairy free girl.
2 Tbsp. dry active Yeast
2 cups warm water
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
5 cups flour

1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 turkey polish sausage link cut into slices like pepperoni
diced veggies
shredded cheese

Mix the first 3 ingredients in your kitchen aide or mixer.  Leave to sit and dissolve for 5 minutes.  Slowly add the flour, salt, and lastly oil.  The dough will pull together and be slightly sticky.  (I left mine to rise for an hour while I ran to the store to get shredded cheese ;)  Arrange your filling ingredients on the counter near your floured rolling surface.  Pinch off dough and shape into a ball in your hand, mine were about the size of a clementine orange.  Roll the ball into a flat circle with a rolling pin.

 Add a spoonful of filling/cheese to the center and fold over dough closing up the side and pinching seams.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.  Let cool and store in a container or bag in freezer.  Reheat in toaster oven or microwave.  Makes 16-18 pizza pockets depending on your size.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Doughnuts..."Deceptive Doughnuts"...hmmm!

Deceptive Doughnuts.....look pretty good!

Mix the batter in a plastic bag, perfect job for little helpers.

Snip the corner off the bag and make your circles on a baking sheet.

If you sandwich them together with a little icing they look just like a real doughnut.

Chocolate doughnut sandwiched with peanut butter...mmmmm!

3 batches of deceptive doughnuts are all GONE!!!

     A close friend of mine challenged me to read Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld. It is a cookbook with recipes that hide pureed healthy foods into them, so your picky eaters will not realize they just ate them. I have tried (and tweaked) her doughnut recipe and am happy to share with you what we think so far:

1. Picky eaters that have the ability to read are automatically suspicious at the new 'Deceptive' cookbook.

2. You will be asked the entire time they are baking, "But what is in them???"

3. Picky eaters who are on to you will say they won't try them, but they will, probably when you are not looking.

4.You can use any type of milk, I used dairy free due to a child with allergies.

5. Mix the wet ingredients into your blender and the dry in a large plastic storage bag. Then knead the two together in the closed bag. Snip off the end of the bag and pipe circles of batter onto your baking sheet. The only dish to clean will be the mixer pitcher and you can toss the bag away after the batter is used up.

6. You can call anything a doughnut, therefore making children fight over them, even knowing mom put beets and carrots into them.

7.  If you do not have the purees on hand, canned vegetables work great.

8. I prefer to just tell them what I put in there rather than being deceptive, with all due respect to Mrs. Seinfeld. After all, how else will you be able to say, "Eat your carrots, you do like them remember,they are in our doughnuts!"
So here are the 3 versions I tried, along with the original recipe from Jessica Seinfeld. I will just list the ingredients for all 4 versions and then the directions after. You make them all the same way, anyway.

banana- sweet potato -carrot doughnut
1/2 banana
1 cup pureed swt. potato
1/2 cup pureed carrots
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vegetable shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp. tsp.baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
powdered sugar

apple- sweet potato -carrot doughnut
1/2 cup pureed swt. potato
1/2 cup pureed carrots
3 Tbsp. Apple Butter (click here for my crock pot recipe)
1/2 cup almond milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vegetable shortening
1 cup flour
1 tsp. tsp.baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
powdered sugar

chocolate doughnut w/ beets and carrots (yes you read that right!)
1/3 cup pureed carrots
1/3 cup pureed beets
1/2 cup almond milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vegetable shortening
2 cups flour
2 tsp. tsp.baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
powdered sugar
peanut butter (optional)

Jessica Seinfeld's doughnut recipe
1/2 cup pureed swt. potato
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup milk

1 egg
1 tsp. vegetable shortening

1 cup flour
1 tsp. tsp.baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
powdered sugar

Mix the wet ingredients into the blender.  Place the dry ingredients into a plastic bag.  Add the two together and then snip off the corner.  Draw circles with your batter on your baking sheet.  Bake at a 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes.  Take out of oven to cool on rack.  Sandwiche donuts together making them more round.  We used icing and peanut butter.  Enjoy experimenting!  Let me know what you come up with!!!